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Via de la Plata - on my own?

#1
Hi

I have decided to walk the Camino next year and I am a bit overwhelmed by the thought of the numbers of people on the Francais route - I love solitude so I have been exploring other routes and I am very interested in the Via de la Plata BUT I will probably be doing the walk on my own and I am wondering if that is a good idea on the Via de la Plata? I love what I have read about the solitude, and the Roman roads etc but ...

I am also a bit concerned about having to walk around 30Klm per day - while I am reasonably fit (and have time to practice walking with a backpack etc) I want to realy enjoy this opportunity to step off the world.

so I would appreciate hearing from anyone who has walked this route recently

regards

Susan
 

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sillydoll

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
#2

William Marques

Moderator
Staff member
Donating Member
#3
VDLP

My Via de la Plata experience is between 3 and 5 years out of date and my wife and I did it as a couple. Having said that the VDLP was not like the Camino Frances it was more like a back country trek. There are some long stages as you mention and July/August is out because of the heat, much worse than the CF in the South. You will be probably be alone unless you tag along with someone early on and if you have an accident you cannot rely on another walker comming along in a few minutes.

There is not the cameraderie of the CF but then there are no crowds either. Having seen two other pilgrims between Seville and Zamora we decided to go via Astorga the rest of the way and join the crowds.

Buen Camino
William
 
#4
In March of '05 I walked 10 days, Sevilla to Caceres. I am planning to return in March '06 in hopes of making it from Caceres to Zamora. The first day out I met 3 other pilgrims and 4 others the next, but I only continued to see just one after a week. The weather was great and the accomodations abundant. I walked the Camino Frances in '04 and can't make many comparisons; they are different. The solitude and the long stages of the VDLP are what make it great.
 
#5
thanks

Dear all

thanks for the very helpful replies :)

hopefully people will keep responding with a note about their experiences :)

I particularly like the idea of the abundant accommodation - I am NOT a morning person and the thought of having to get up before dawn to get to the next refugio in time to get a bed for the night does not appeal at all!

I imagine that if some of the long stages seem a bit too much for me that I could catch a bus?

At this stage - depending on work contracts next year - I will walk in September and October - I am planning on taking 2 months off work to allow time for travel, orientation once I get to Spain, and a nice walk without having to push myself if I get tired (or blisters). I anticipate the weather then would be similar to March?

take care

Susan
 

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#6
I wouldn't worry about the long stages, particularly in the first 200 miles, and by that time you will be conditioned enough to walk 35-40km in 8 hours. Since vacation time limited me to 2 wks., and since Merida and Caceres are worth spending at least a day to visit, I doubled up some treks, but only before taking a day off to be a tourist. The one thing about the VDLP that I loved was the trails on soft sandy ground. It is gentle on the feet and you can tell if there is traffic ahead. A fellow pilgrim would scribe his RAMON out in the sand to tell me he was ahead and out earlier than me. I wore trail running shoes and they worked out to be the best of choices. Most pilgrims on the Silver Route, if you see any, have done other caminos, and most have their systems down and fine tuned: small packs, one change of clothes, water bottles, little else. I had pages from the 2 popular guide books and the Amigos de Sevilla spiral bound book which I bought in Sevilla and used only to get additional sellos as it is too general to be of help. Hardly anyone ever mentions the wind in Spain, yea there is sun and even in autumn it is going to burn you, but the wind! that is going to make you take notice also.
 
Camino(s) past & future
2002-2004-2006-2008-2011-2015
Cycled from Scotland,walked Francias, walked V.D.L.P, winter on Francais, stroll on Englaise
#7
Via de la Plata

Hi,
Like you I am planning to walk the Plata in Sept/Oct 06. I love reading over guide books and dreaming of whats to come. At the moment it looks like 51 days with the longest being circa 39km and the shortest a modest 6km. I want to take my time and enjoy the experience. This will be my 3rd Camino so I have a fair idea what to expect.
Hope to meet you somewhere along the way - I should be easily spotted as I wear my kilt while walking.
Dael
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata.
#8
Hi All,

My husband and I are planning to walk the Via together next year in March/April or April/May. Timing depends on work commitments here.

My copy of "Walking the Via de la Plata" by Ben Coles and Bethan Davies has just arrived from http://www.pilipalapress.com - it looks good.

I am usually overweight, unfit and my age is something that should not be mentioned in polite company. This is my 4th camino and somehow, assisted by St James, I have always made it to Santiago in the past. With only a few months left it is time I started some preparation, otherwise there will be lots of "mea culpas" when the going gets tough.....

Kanga
 
#9
Hi all

it is fun participating in this discussion :) Like Dael I am having a wonderful time investigating all the web sites, and reading our postings, and dreaming of my Camino :) I haven't bought any guide books yet but I will take your advice, Kanga, re the book from Pilipala Press and get that soon - does anyone else have any other recommendations re books?

I tried to buy a Lonely Planet for Spain the other day and couldn't at my local shopping centre book store - so I will have an expedition into the city to look for that.

I have also noted that various web sites advise that if you are doing a route other than the Francais you do need some basic Spanish - is that right?? I am looking for spanish calsses but haven't had any success at present - hard to believe when I live in Brisbane, a capital city with a population of over 1 million! but I will keep looking and hope to start something in the new year.

and 'emullen' you talked about the wind - can you elaborate please :)

and Dael I am pleased to hear that you are walking in your kilt :) I had been thinking that a skirt would be much more comfortable than trousers (unless it is cold) and I feel reassured that I am not totally 'loopy' for considering this :)

I look forward to our ongoing discussion :)

take care

Susan
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata.
#10
Hi Susan,

Good to see another Aussie on this website. I speak some Spanish so that is not a problem for me. I'm in love with the Camino Frances, it is so romantic and rich with the history of the pilgrimage. And meeting all those fellow pilgrims is a heap of fun! But after walking it 3 times I feel the need to branch out....

The Lonely Planet Guide to Spain is really aimed at tourists; do you need that extra weight? Lonely Planet also put out a "Walking in Spain" book which has a chapter on the Camino Frances, but there are better guides about, and better books on Spain.

Wind - sometimes it howls across the meseta; in early spring and late autumn it blows straight off the snow on the mountains. In May/June/early July it can be a blessing, bringing cooling relief as you perspire. One reason late July/August gets unbearable on the meseta is that the wind does not blow.

Skirts/pants. Consider the possibility of chaffing. If in doubt test by walking continuously for 5/6 hours, see if there are any irritation points.

Send me an email off site (jillhill@jillhill.com.au) if you like.

Kanga.
 
Camino(s) past & future
2002-2004-2006-2008-2011-2015
Cycled from Scotland,walked Francias, walked V.D.L.P, winter on Francais, stroll on Englaise
#11
Hi Susan,
My interest in the Camino sprung from the skeleton of a Pilgrim to Santiago which was found on a tiny island near my home. He lived in the 12th century and died when he was in his mid 20s.
In my first Camino I cycled what was probably the route he followed.
During that journey I learned not to rely on daily schedules and timetables but to do as he probably did - take things as they come.
We are not setting off on some long distance race but a journey which will effect you for the rest of your life. Take time to enjoy it.
I find it helpfull not to get into the mindset of "I'm going to walk 1000km" that can crush a person. I prefer to think "I am going to walk 20/30km". Once that is done I find a bed, shower have lunch and tomorrow I can look forward to doing it again.
You are probably thinking in terms of the physical challenge ahead of you. Nothing prepares you for the emotional roller coaster which you will encounter - the laughter and the tears, the supreme joy and the everwhelming depression which is the experience of many. Its all part of the life away from home that we call "The Camino".
Dael
 
#12
Hello all.
I presently find myself in the fortunate circumstances of teaching 4 high school Spanish classes in New England. Regarding Spanish lessons, I have had luck with these sites:
conjuguemos.com
learnspanish.com
spaleon.com
spanishflashcards.com

Regarding the wind on the way north from Sevilla: the weather pattern that showed its face last March was a fierce southerly out of N. Africa. I must have had my cap blown off a hundred times. I could see the discomfort in the faces of contact lense wearers and there were days of being sand burned from the dry dust as it hadn't rained in almost a year. I can't imagine this route in summer.
 
#14
Via de la Plata on my own

Hi Susan

I arrived in Seville on June 24, 2003 to walk the VDLP ... had walked the CF twice but had no info on the VDLP ... figured there would be lots of info available in Seville.

Several enquiries (I am unilingual ... Canadian english) and a few hours later I met a member of the local VDLP Organization ... he was rather surprised that I intended to walk the camino in July and August ... solo ... and told me it might be dangerous.

He didn't tell me that the summer of 2003 would be the 'hottest' summer on record in Europe .... nor that the Seville area is known as the 'frying pan' of Europe. :)

In the next 40 days I experienced the most difficult ... yet most exhilarating ... experience of my life ... I tell people I have done my 40 days in the desert :)

The route is not as well marked as the CF ... yet the only day I got seriously lost I was walking with a pilgrim from Germany who was carrying one of those satellite tracking devices :)

Bruce
 
#15
Dear Susan,

Linda and I, Maarten bought a hostal on the via de la plata in may 2005, and moved in right away (former hostal miraltajo, embalse de alcantara).
We saw a lot of pilgrims passing, resting with us and sleeping with us, so we asked them everything, of course.
There are only a few parts of the via where you have to walk 30km or more, with good planning only 3 or 4. normally 20 will do.
Indeed better to not do this in july or august, though there were some die-hards. Lots of women on their own, too.
Anyway, good luck!
if you need more info, let me know!
best regards,
maarten
susanmaree said:
Hi

I have decided to walk the Camino next year and I am a bit overwhelmed by the thought of the numbers of people on the Francais route - I love solitude so I have been exploring other routes and I am very interested in the Via de la Plata BUT I will probably be doing the walk on my own and I am wondering if that is a good idea on the Via de la Plata? I love what I have read about the solitude, and the Roman roads etc but ...

I am also a bit concerned about having to walk around 30Klm per day - while I am reasonably fit (and have time to practice walking with a backpack etc) I want to realy enjoy this opportunity to step off the world.

so I would appreciate hearing from anyone who has walked this route recently

regards

Susan
 

William Marques

Moderator
Staff member
Donating Member
#16
Thanks Maarten

Great news that you have taken on this challenge.

I notice on your website you have a three night minimum stay. Will you be open to passing pilgrims for one night stays? Do you have dormitories or special rates for pilgrims?

Thanks

William
 
#17
Re: Thanks Maarten

Hi William,

Yes, we will be open for 1night stays for pilgrims!
In our Hotel Rural for the price stated on our website http://www.lindamar.net.
We also bought 18 (with 15 sleeping max. 2) tents with wooden floors and plastificated (?) matrasses for for example pilgrims, because we know the hotel is probably a bit to expensive for some pilgrims but we would love to have them over!
Warm and cold water to be installed also. Price will probably be E7 pp
'Plata de Peregrino' around 08.00PM in our bar/restaurant.

Overall: relaxed athmosphere.
Might be a good idea to reserve by phone or email to avoid the rare disappointment!

Please do not interpretate this as some lame free advertising; just trying to give complete info.

Best regards & buen camino!
Maarten

William Marques said:
Great news that you have taken on this challenge.

I notice on your website you have a three night minimum stay. Will you be open to passing pilgrims for one night stays? Do you have dormitories or special rates for pilgrims?

Thanks

William
 

ivar

Administrator
Staff member
Donating Member
#18
Hi Maarten and welcome to the forum,

This is good and useful information for pilgrims planning a walk. I know it is a fine line between sounding like advertising, but as long as you can contribute with some good and useful information I see it as that and not "spam".

I encourage other owners of similar establishments to join and contribute as well.

Thanks Maarten!

Un saludo,
Ivar
 

William Marques

Moderator
Staff member
Donating Member
#19
I remember that section of the Via and seeing the closed hostal overlooking the resevoir at just the right distance between Casar de Caceres and Canaveral. From memory there is not much else around so it is a gap well filled.

William
 

Paulus

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (May 2005), Norte (May 2006), Vezelay (2007).
#20
Hi Maarten,

Ziet er fraai uit! (looks good!).
Succes met de verbouwing (good luck with all the work to do!)

Paul
 
#21
Via de la Plata

:D

Dear Susan,

I walked the VdP from 19 May 2004 - 2 July 2004. This was my first Camino de Santiago and I will not regeret it. Yes, there were days that I thought I was crazy and a sucker for punishment. Ironically, a good noight's sleep has always left me refreshed so that I could look forward to the next day.


To Ms Maarten who bought the hostal miraltajo, next to the embalse de alcantara, Thank you. I too remeber that part very well. Unfortunately the hostal was closed when I walked passed it. I could have done with a break at that time. I am sure that pilgrims will appreciate the stop. The walk to Canaveral from there was one of the moments that I thought to myself: "Why?"

Susan, walk the VdP. The solitude is good for your soul. I have not met a large number of pilgrims on the VdP. But the few I have met became friends and we shared our pains, sorrows and pleasures with each other.

Buen Camino


Nicholas, Johannesburg, South Africa
 
#22
I walked the distance from Seville to Salamanca where I was forced to quit but I will do it over again this year. I am a young woman walking alone, although I met a few people on my way.
Some things are important: always lock the door of the refugio at night because you may be unlucky, as I was, to enounter men who you don't like, most likely people who are not true pilgrims but people taing advantage of free or cheap beds. You will be vunerable, especially if you don't speak more than a few words of spanish.
It is quite possible to walk 30 km every day if you are reasonably fit, but remember that it gets very hot in the afternoon during the summer so you will have to get up at sunset and get to your goal before three-four pm or so. Also remember to be prepared to pay for a hotel sometimes as refugios may be closed or with just a telephone number left in a window.

Despite all this, the journey is life changing. It is hard in many ways, because it is lonely and you can feel insecure and uncertain of everything, but it will strengthen you.
As I said, anyone can send me an e-mail and I will be happy to answer your questions, though it may take a few days.
buon camino! martabarius@yahoo.se
 
Camino(s) past & future
camino francés 2008, Via de la Plata March-april 2016
#23
SusanMAree and others

I note that it is some time since you posted your question. I am now in a similar position to you, planning to walk alone, and trying to decide whether the via de la plata with its longer days, and empty routes is preferable to the crowds on the frances. Did you complete your pilgrimage? how did you find it?

I am planning to walk in april to mid may 08.

Jennifer (also from australia)
 

JohnnieWalker

Nunca se camina solo
Donating Member
#24
I think it depends on when you walk the VdlP. I walked the first 500 k in January and never met another pilgrim in 20 or so days walking. The etapas were stunning and challenging but really satisfying. I walked another week last week and there were other pilgrims around - really busy :) with as many as 8 people in albergues! For the first time I also saw some people walking direct routes on the road between places only to arrive early then have nothing to do all day. Not for me as the yellow arrows provide the most scenic walking. Some of the stages can be long but the average can still be around 25 - 27k per day. The Allison Raju guide is invaluable and the route is perfectly waymarked.
 

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